Surprises Were Plenty In One-Room School

As a schoolteacher in a rural schoolhouse, there was never a dull moment.

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Teaching in a one-room school was never without surprises.

On a busy highway, the schoolhouse faced south so we were not aware of the events to the east of us.

One of the boys went out to display the flag and very quietly called me to the cloakroom.

"There's a man sitting on the approach to the schoolyard. He has a package on his lap which looks like a rifle that is not assembled."

Needless to say, the door was locked immediately and no one left the building until the parents came to pick up their children. We did not mention the problem so the younger ones would not panic and cause a lot of pandemonium in the room.

After school was dismissed, one of the parents and an older lad looked into the culvert and found empty wrappers for food, pop and pieces of bread. Apparently someone was using it for a place to sleep.

The next morning after the bell had rung, I peered out the bathroom window. Lo and behold, he was back!

During the forenoon, I glanced down the road and a man was going under a bridge where a small stream of water flowed. In a few minutes I saw the reflection of a mirror. In all probability, he was shaving.

We notified the sheriff, but the highway patrol had spotted him first. Actually he was not guilty of any crime, but he was homeless and broke. The patrolman asked him to unwrap the package. It contained a fishing rod which had been dismantled!

Madonna K. Storla
Postville, Iowa
(Editor's Note: Mrs. Storla also reports that soon after the director had a phone installed for the teacher!)


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.